During the COVID-19 Pandemic, each and every Home Inspector should look at changing their procedures for performing a Home Inspection. These process changes are to protect your clients, other professionals, yourself and your friends and family.
Keeping yourself safe
The COVID-19 disease is caused by the SAR-CoV-2 virus which is transmitted in water droplets exhaled from the nose and mouth of someone infected. These droplets can enter through the mouth, nose or eyes of a non-infected individual and subsequently infect them. The symptoms of COVID-19 may not become apparent for up to 14 days so someone could have the diseases and be able to transmit it without even knowing it.
Because the only way to know of the occurrence of a positive infection is testing, and testing is neither widespread nor rapid, there is a risk that you could either subject people you come into contact with, or have them subject you, to the transmission of the virus.
It is therefore of paramount importance that you both prevent infection of yourself and from you to others.
The SAR-CoV-2 virus, like other Human coronaviruses, can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days, (ref: https://ontarioachi.ca/covid-surface ) so proper hygiene and cleansing processes should be adopted to ensure you, your equipment and any surfaces you touch are kept virus-free.
In addition, it is known that Coronaviruses can remain airborne for up to 3 hours, (Ref: https://ontarioachi.ca/covid-airborne ) so it is important that you wear a mask that protects you (at least N95 and preferably P or R100) and wear eye protection (either a face shield, wrap-around safety glasses or full-face respirator)
This is obviously going to add costs and time to your inspection so you may want to warn your clients and any attendant Realtors of an increase in the time for the inspection and an increase in price to cover extra costs.
The warning position brings us to your agreements.
First and foremost, every contract should have reference to the changes to the Home Inspection Process and any limitations these changes might create.
We strongly suggest that you have a clause in your Home Inspection Contract such as this:
COVID-19 PROCEDURAL CHANGES
During the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative for everyone's safety that you complete the COVID-19 Questionnaire and provide this to your Inspector. You agree to waive all rights of litigation, for anything with respect to this inspection, against Inspector should, as a result of information received as part of our inquiries, or as a result of actions outside of our control. This includes, but is not limited to:
The last-minute cancellation of the inspection
Early termination of the inspection
Refusal to inspect certain components of the property
Prohibiting close personal contact
No post-inspection personal walkthrough
A copy of the fillable Questionnaire can be downloaded from here. COVID-19 Questionnaire
Where limitations or omissions have been made, you should document them thoroughly. This both informs your client as to areas you may not have been able to cover and also protects you from future litigation for components omitted.
Our strongest recommendation is that wherever possible unless the inspection is essential, you follow government and medical agency guidelines and stay-at-home.
While the numbers for the rate of infection have been falling, this is based upon the practices of social distancing and self-isolation. As more and more people start to mix, it is very likely that the rate of infection and the mortality rate will likely climb again. We don’t want our members to be part of that statistic.
Take the “Essential Business” survey to see what we feel should be your actions when asked to perform a Home Inspection.